Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mind, Self, Soul, Spirit, and Happiness from an Islamic Perspective-A Reseach Study

The concepts of mind, self, soul, Spirit, and happiness are closely related in the Holy Qur’an. This article attempts to increase people’s understanding of these concepts, their interconnectedness, and their relevance to Islamic teachings in general.
Importance of the Topic
Scientists of our time have been able to clone animals. This has made it easier on people to believe that the Creator (Praise to Him), the All-Knowledgeable, is capable of resurrecting the human body in the Day of Judgment.
The current information revolution has demonstrated that information can be captured in diskettes and disks and transferred through space (from Earth to satellites orbiting our planet, then back to Earth). However, humans have neither been capable of transferring information from the human brain nor to it.
This is God’s sphere so far. He is the Creator of scientists and internet innovators. He is capable of transferring information from our brains at the moment of death to a super “disk” somewhere in His universe until the Day of Judgment. He has not told us how He does that but assured us that we will know a little about it.
These facts also mean that God is capable of cloning the same individual and of transferring the information back to his/her brain, thus resurrecting humans in body and soul, at the Day of Judgment.
Happiness, Good, and Evil
Ultimately, believers in God's ability of resurrection would behave in a good way during their life time on Planet Earth. As a result, they will be rewarded in the this life by living in happiness, and in the hereafter by entering God's Paradise and enjoying life there forever.
Conversely, those who don't want to believe in the Day of Reckoning, don't also believe in accountability. So, they may act in an evil or a bad way during their life time on Planet Earth. As a result, they will be punished by not living in peace and happiness in this life and by entering Hell in the hereafter.
An important point in the discussion about the Day of Judgment is that capturing human voice and picture, recording them, and broadcasting them through radio and TV waves have demonstrated that it is possible to record every movement, action, or word a human being does or says while living on Earth.
If humans could do that, then it should be a given that their Creator is more capable of doing it than they are. This constitutes further evidence about the accountability humans are held to by God, who will judge them according to what has been recorded about them.
The two concepts of good and evil are not left to people to define. Otherwise, they may never agree on what constitutes each one of them.
God's teachings revealed in His messages to guide humanity, as summarized in the Holy Qur'an, include specific definitions and examples of what constitutes good and evil.
These messages were delivered by God’s messengers throughout human history. Some of these messengers were mentioned in the Holy Books, others were not mentioned.
Among the mentioned prominent messengers of God, we are told about Adam, Nooh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Loot’ (Lot), Is'haq (Isaac), Ya'aqoub (Jacob), Yousuf (Joseph), Moussa (Moses), Hood, Saleh, Elias (Elijah), Elyasa'a, Younus (Jonah), Ayoub (Jobe), Dawood (David), Sulaiman (Solomon), Zakariyah, Yahya (John), Al-Messieh Issa Bin Mariam (the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary), and Muhammed (Peace and blessings of God be upon all of them).
The message of God to humanity, taught by his messengers, includes commands and recommendations.
While good is what God has wanted humans to do, evil is what He warned them against, telling them to avoid or not to do.
It follows that obedience to God, through doing what He wants people to do, constitutes what's good, and leads to happiness. However, disobedience to Him leads to committing evil acts, which causes suffering to offenders and to their victims.
More direct association between obedience to God and happiness as well as disobedience to Him and unhappiness or wretchedness can be found in verses throughout the Holy Qur’an.
The Mind
The mind is the body of knowledge housed in the brain. It includes two main parts. The first is a software which develops inherently with the brain in the womb. It is responsible for the functionality of the body, readiness for learning, and disposition for knowing good and evil, as explained in the self below.
The second part of the mind is accumulated from birth until death, as a result of the interaction with the world. So, the mind actually houses everything a person learns throughout his/her life. However, not all the information accumulated in the mind may be used by a person.
The word mind (aql, عقل) does not appear in the Holy Qur’an as a noun in the singular form. Rather, a derivative of which is used as a verb (aqala عَقَلَ ), meaning to tie, tighten, control, or restrict.
Thus, minding or reasoning means subjecting one’s thinking to known restrictions, rules, laws, and controls in order for one’s behavior to become as educated, safe, wise, and intelligent as possible, as mentioned in many verses of the Holy Qur’an.
The word al-albab ) ألألباب), however, is used in the Holy Qur’an to refer to the “mind” but in the plural form.It has been used in 15 verses, all addressing believers who are intelligent enough to use their “minds.”
Self and Soul
In Surat Al-Ana’am (Chapter 6), Verse 60 of the Holy Qur’an, we are told that Allah (God, praise to Him) knows what we do in the daytime, then we go back to Him in the Day of Judgment, so He tells us what we have done in this life.
In Chapter 6, also, Verse 61, God tells us that when the moment of death comes, God sends angels who are curators or record keepers to end a person’s life on Earth. Nothing will be left out of his/her record. The record will be completed. Thus, death means “wafah” or “completion” of a person’s record during his/her time life on Earth.
Verse 67 of Chapter 6 assures us that every bit of news has a destination where it can be saved or recorded, and prophetically tells us that we will know that this can and will happen.
Part of this prophecy has been fulfilled in our time, as we have been capable of capturing the sound and pictures of humans and their environment and of broadcasting them through radio and TV waves throughout terrestrial and extraterrestrial space.
The main idea here is that if humans have been capable of accomplishing that, then it should be a given that Allah Almighty is more capable of doing it and more.
But what exactly are we going to be held accountable for?
The Holy Qur’an tells us that we will be held accountable for all what we say or do with our own free will and choice. This is because God has given humans the freedom to choose
The Holy Qur’an is very specific about the contrast between the two choices. In Verses 7 and 8 of Chapter 91, God Almighty says that when He has perfected the creation of humans (by blowing His spirit in them), he has also equipped the human self with the ability to choose to be pious or deviant, following the straight path or going astray from it.
Translators of the Holy Qur’an, including Yusuf Ali, generally use the word “soul” as a translation for the Arabic word nafs (نَفۡسٌ۬). Sociologists use another term, “self,” to refer to the body of knowledge, which is selected from the mind in a developmental process to form a unique identity for a living person.
The word soul is more used by religious scholars to refer to a person’s unique identity after death, than during his/her life on earth. Thus, the “soul” is the “self ” after death, which will be held accountable for its performance during life on Earth. It will be resurrected through being transferred back to its cloned body in the Day of Judgment, in order to be able to communicate with its Creator, then to be rewarded or punished on the basis of its Earthen performance.
There are hundreds of verses in the Holy Qur’an, which mention the self (“nafs” in Arabic). Some of them refer to the self during its life on Earth and others refer to it in the hereafter.
While psychologists, sociologists, and other scientists have been studying the mind and the self (which becomes soul after death), we know very little about the spirit, as the Holy Qur'an tells us.
The word “spirit” is a translation of the Arabic word rooh (روح, which is mentioned in about 20 verses in the Holy Qur’an. )
Humans receive part of God’s spirit when they are still in the womb. An angel comes and blows it in the fetus brain. It is responsible for the functionality of the body organs, readiness for learning, and disposition for knowing good and evil, as mentioned in footnote # 5.

From these 20 verses of the Holy Qur’an, we know that the spirit is a quality of God that He sends to the humans He has created in order to support, strengthen, and give life to them. Thus, humans have some of God’s spirit. The verses also refer to the angel Jibril (Gabriel) as God’s spirit.
Summary and Conclusion
The concepts of mind, self, soul, Spirit, and happiness are closely related in the Holy Qur’an. They are interconnected, in the sense that understanding them individually cannot be complete without understanding how they are related to each other.
As human beings, we are elated over a lot of God’s creations because of our ability to collect, process, and use data in a good way, by choice.
The human body is just an instrument that incubates and sustains the brain, which houses the human mind, from which the self develops and evolves throughout a person's lifetime on Earth.
God Almighty starts the process by installing an essential software from His spirit in the human brain. This allows and enables the human self to start a life-long process of data collection, processing, and decision making while having the ability to differentiate between good and evil.
When the body is no longer capable of sustaining the self, whether by old age, sickness, or accidental injury, then records of the human self are completed by angels.
In the hereafter, the self is going to be judged on the basis of its performance on Earth. If it is obedient to God in its behavior, it will be living in happiness in this life and in the hereafter. But, if the human self is disobedient to God, it suffers in its Earthen life and in the hereafter.
To sum up, goodness is obedience to God and evil is disobedience to Him.
It follows that bad things never happen to good people.
Whatever happens to human beings in their life is good, as long as they are obedient to God, even if they become poor, get sick, or killed unjustly. It’s good because their ultimate destination is an eternal happy life in Paradise. They have to work as hard as they can in their pursuit of happiness but they have to observe God in everything they say or do.
You may get the results you want to achieve here in this life (wealth, offspring, power, prestige, reproductive activities, etc.) but there's a possibility that you may not get what you are pursuing because of circumstances beyond your control.
Success or failure, in the Islamic sense, is in how you conduct yourself during the process.

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